|Issue No 109
|31 August 2001
The Meaning of Working Life – The Answer is 7.1!
The Labor Council of NSW has developed a new benchmark top chart the quality of working life in Australia. And it's initial finding? Our level of happiness is 7.1.
The Labor Council of NSW - ACIRRT Quality of Working Life survey is the first comprehensive summary of attitudes to working life undertaken. The AQWL index is derived from interviews of 1100 workers carried out nationwide. It will be commissioned every 12 months, to gain an understanding in workplace trends.
Researchers have set the initial index at 7.1. While this has limited meaning as the base year index, we can make the following observations as to the attitudes of those surveyed.
- Issues that trade unions have taken up and campaigned for such as sexual harassment, workplace health and safety and working hours are of significant concern to working people.
- One in five workers were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the following issues: pay levels, the interest in their work, their career prospects, trust for senior management. One in four were dissatisfied with the balance between work and family life and nearly a third were dissatisfied with the level of stress. This points to some serious problems for a sizeable proportion of the working population.
- Younger workers are generally happier than older workers on all major indicators. Dissatisfaction grows as workers age with respect to trust of management, satisfaction with pay, career prospects and amount of work required.
- Higher income earners (earning more than $70,000) are more likely to be dissatisfied with working hours, the balance between work and family and stress levels. Interestingly, high-income earners were only marginally more satisfied than low-income earners.
- The smaller an organization, the happier a worker is likely to be. Workers had a significantly higher level of satisfaction with the recognition they received for their efforts and the trust they felt for senior management.
- Women were generally more satisfied than men, private sector employees were more satisfied than public sector employees and white collar workers were more satisfied than blue collar workers.
- Part-time workers were more satisfied than full-time workers, probably because of different expectations. Similarly, there was no discernable difference between the satisfaction of casual and full-time employees.
Overall, the survey found a general level of satisfaction with working life among the majority of workers, reflecting the trade union movement's success in civilizing the workplace.
Where dissatisfaction occurs, it is largely linked to relationships with management and fellow workers and their ability to carry out their work in a professional manner.
This survey presents a nation of people keen to work and be recognized for their labour, who have no systemic hostility to management, but wish to be treated with the respect they believe they deserve.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the findings vindicate the trade union movement's strategy is dealing with grass roots issues.
"What this shows is that workers are concerned about the issues inside their own workplace and they want trade unions to be active on the shop floor," Robertson says.
"This is consistent with the Labor Council's push towards a more grass-roots organizing approach to worker representation."
Full details of the study will be released in a research paper by ACIRRT later in the year.
Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
E-Change: Training for a Wired Workforce
Education is the entry point into the new economy; but the system still reflects an industrial age view of the world.
Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU´s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
History: Struggle and Inspiration
Rowan Cahill argues that it is only through understanding history that we can make sense of the present plight of workers.
Technology: A World Without Microsoft
Heather Sharp argues that all technologies involve political choices and moral values. Computer software is no exception, and it is Bill Gates' choices that dominate.
Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia’s Oldest Rock Fans review the week’s music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
Satire: Tampa refugees ask to go home: "It's less inhumane than Australia"
The 460 asylum seekers on board the Tampa freight vessel have demanded to be taken back to their oppressive homelands, which they now realise aren’t nearly as hostile as Australia.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005